UK Government announced today the launch of the long-awaited review of the gambling laws in the country that is set to define the framework for an upcoming overhaul of the industry. Launched as part of a call for evidence which is set to run for 16 weeks, the review will consider strengthening the powers of the Gambling Commission (GC), among other issues such as online gaming and marketing restrictions.
“Whilst millions gamble responsibly, the Gambling Act is an analogue law in a digital age. From an era of having a flutter in a high street bookmaker, casino, racecourse or seaside pier, the industry has evolved at breakneck speed.”Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Minimum Age for National Lottery Play
The review is set to consider how the gambling industry has changed for the past 15 years to draw insights into what amendments are needed to make sure laws do not fall behind and are fit for the digital age. At the very launch, the Government came up with a significant change, raising the minimum age to play the National Lottery from 16 to 18, an amendment set to come into effect by October 2021 at the latest.
“We’re committed to protecting young people from gambling related harm which is why we are raising the minimum age for the National Lottery. Patterns of play have changed since its inception, with a shift towards online games, and this change will help make sure the National Lottery, although already low-risk, is not a gateway to problem gambling.”Nigel Huddleston, Minister, Sport, Tourism and Heritage
Make Sure People Remain with Licensed Operators
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) CEO Michael Dugher welcomed the start of the gambling review, expressing the hopes of the industry that, while there is an “opportunity to drive further changes on safer gambling”, the changes would not go too far to drive people away from licensed operators and into the hands of the black market ones.
“… So I hope Ministers will focus in with laser-like precision on problem gamblers and those at risk. The Government must ensure that any changes do not drive people to the unregulated black market online, where there aren’t any safeguards to protect vulnerable people.”Michael Dugher, CEO, BGC
Balance Between Protection and Excitement
Retail and online betting and gaming operator William Hill also stood behind the gambling review, stressing on the importance it is evidence-led and strikes the right balance between protection for vulnerable people and the excitement for the occasional punters.
“William Hill welcomes the gambling review which the Government has launched today… It is important that the review is evidence-led, strikes the right balance between protecting the vulnerable and the continued enjoyment of the many tens of millions who happily place the occasional bet, as well as taking a critical look at the growing risks of the black market where there are no consumer protections.”Ulrik Bengtsson, CEO, William Hill
The review is set to focus on online casino stakes, prizes and speed of play, new rules for affordability checks, restrictions in terms of sponsorship deals, as well as new powers for the GC to tackle illegal operations and redress punters wronged by gambling operators.
The powers of the regulator will be center stage in the review after a devastating report published by the Public Accounts Committee exposed the glaring deficiencies of the GC and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to ensure adequate protection to millions of at-risk people.